Thursday 5 March 2015

.: QuiltCon 2015 - Gee's Bend Keynote - post 5 :.

The Gee's Bend Keynote at QuiltCon was wonderful.  The quilters started their talk with a spiritual song that included the words "I don't want nobody to praise me when I'm gone; give me my flowers while I yet live" - meaning we should share and give kindnesses now, don't save those sentiments til it's too late - it was a pretty powerful message to open with.   I've heard a few different reactions to the experience of being in the room during the Keynote, but I found it uplifting, affirming, welcoming and pretty emotional.  The Gee's Bend quilters shared several spiritual songs and stories of their upbringing, and talked about their own quilting histories.

Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins.
Mary Ann and China did pretty much all the talking during the Keynote.
Mary Ann Pettway is the current manager of the Gee's Bend Quilters' Collective.  There does not seem to be a current website for the Collective, though they do have a Facebook page.

It was interesting to learn that there is not really any collaborative sewing or quilting at Gee's Bend anymore.  Both Mary Ann and China said they now prefer to sew by themselves, and that they like their stitches to be the same size!  But in continuing to travel, teach and share the stories of Gee's Bend, they are ensuring that this significant chapter of quilting history in America lives on.

The quilt show included an exhibition of a number of quilts from Gee's Bend.  Here are a few:
"Olympic Housetop" by Mary Ann Pettway c.2012
"Corduroy Mix #01" by Qunnie Pettway c.2008
"Square Blocks 1970s" by Rachael George-Carey

"Denim and Corduroy Blocks" by Flora Moore c. 2004

I recorded the last song that the quilters of Gee's Bend sang and wanted to share it here - their voices and songs were moving and awesome - but I've had way too much trouble uploading it to this space - I think the file is too big and I'm too blog-clue-less to know how to sort it out.  I might figure it out one day!   Only one more QuiltCon blog post to come - the people, wahoo! Enjoy your Thursday, I'm hiding in the air-con today in 36-degree Brisbane - hopefully Brisbane realises very soon that it's autumn, not mid-summer.  xoxo cat

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post! I was so confused when people starting putting up gospel singing on IG from a quilters conference, and I asked a couple of people for an explanation, but got no response! So I ended up googling......but it's good to hear someone's account of the event! x


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